European Football: Five talking points from the week gone by

Real Madrid won the Clasico to regain the initiative in the La Liga title race, while Thomas Mueller continued his renaissance and Ajax saw its recent slump go on.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi reacts as Real Madrid's defender Sergio Ramos celebrates his team's second goal during El Clasico.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi reacts as Real Madrid's defender Sergio Ramos celebrates his team's second goal during El Clasico.

Real Madrid won the Clasico to regain the initiative in the Spanish title race, while Thomas Mueller continued his renaissance and Ajax saw its recent slump go on.

Here's a look at some of the main talking points from the weekend across Europe:

- Worrying times for Barcelona -

Gerard Pique said it was one of the worst Real Madrid sides he had faced at the Santiago Bernabeu but, even more worrying for him than that, Barcelona was beaten 2-0 in the Clasico on Sunday.

Madrid's win puts it a point ahead of Barca at the top of La Liga and more important than the effect on the standings could be the psychological lift it gives Zinedine Zidane's team, which was on the brink of crisis after defeat by Manchester City in the Champions League.

Read | El Clasico: Ramos hits back at Pique's 'Worst Madrid' jibe

Focus will shift back to Barcelona and how it responds to another set-back in its topsy-turvy season. It has the slightly easier run-in of the two but Pique said this was an “opportunity missed”. It may prove difficult to recover.

- Mueller's second coming continues -

Amid the concern surrounding the news that Robert Lewandowski would be out for a month with a knee injury, Thomas Mueller appears to be relishing the extra responsibility at Bayern Munich.

Picking up two assists in Bayern's 6-0 defeat of Hoffenheim, Mueller equalled his personal best of 16 assists for the year with 10 games left.

He has the equal-most assists of anyone in Europe's top five leagues along with Kevin De Bruyne and is on track to eclipse the best ever Bundesliga mark of 22 set by RB Leipzig's Emil Forsberg in 2016/17.

Also read | Flick, Rummenigge critical of 'idiots' after Bayern Munich fans halt Hoffenheim game

A year after Mueller was sacked from the German national team, he has emerged as a crucial man in Bayern's title defence and Champions League campaign. It is still undefeated in 2020.

“You can see the quality of the football we are playing, but we do not need a pat on the shoulder because if we lose next week the sparrows will sing from the rooftops,” he said.

- Unstoppable Atalanta -

Only four matches were played in Serie A as Italian authorities try to contain the coronavirus outbreak. Lazio went top of the table, while Atalanta's fine form continued.

The modest club from Bergamo ran riot in Lecce, winning 7-2 with Duvan Zapata notching a hat-trick. It is now fourth, three points above Roma with a game in hand, meaning it is on course to qualify for next season's Champions League.

Related | More uncertainty around Serie A due to coronavirus but Juve-Milan to go ahead

It is also primed to make the quarterfinals of this season's competition after beating Valencia 4-1 in the first leg of its last-16 tie, and the goals just keep on coming.

Atalanta has scored five or more goals in five Serie A games now, and with 70 goals in total in 25 matches, only Bayern and Paris Saint-Germain have scored more in Europe's top five leagues.

- Lyon roars again -

Fresh from its 1-0 win over Juventus in its Champions League last 16, first leg, Lyon got the better of bitter rival Saint-Etienne, winning Sunday's derby 2-0.

Both goals were scored by Moussa Dembele, who has 16 in Ligue 1 this season but has still not found the net in the Champions League.

It has been a mediocre campaign for Lyon, but it is now back up to fifth in the table and the form of January signing Bruno Guimaraes is especially encouraging.

The 20 million-euro ($22 million) recruit from Athletico Paranaense was outstanding on his Champions League debut and again stood out in midfield on Sunday.

- Ajax slump goes on -

Three days after being dumped out of the Europa League by Getafe, Ajax saw its hopes of retaining the Dutch title suffer a blow as it was beaten 2-0 at home by AZ Alkmaar.

Teenager Myron Boadu and Oussama Idrissi scored for AZ, which is now level on points with Ajax atop the Eredivisie.

It was a second straight league defeat for Ajax, which lost 1-0 at Heracles last weekend and has lost three of its last five league games to let AZ -- which last won the title in 2009 under Louis van Gaal -- back in.

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